Environmental groups vow to block exemption for L.A. stadium

There hasn’t been much public action the last couple of months on that plan for an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles, but environmental groups are charging that there’s plenty going on behind the scenes. Tina Andolina of the Planning and Conservation League emailed out a sign-on letter on Tuesday morning, saying, “We are getting word that AEG (the owners of the Staples Center in LA) would like a CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] exemption for a new NFL stadium in downtown LA,” and asking recipients to oppose it.

The similarly unbuilt City of Industry stadium plan, you’ll recall, was awarded an exemption from environmental review by the California legislature last fall, something that environmental groups at the time would inspire other developers to ask for similar exemptions. AEG officials wouldn’t comment on whether they’ll be seeking a CEQA exemption.

This seems like a pre-emptive strike by the Planning and Conservation League, but an eminently reasonable one, since you have to figure AEG is at least thinking about asking for the same deal from the state as Ed Roski got in Industry. It looks to be only the beginning of a long, long battle to come.

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4 comments on “Environmental groups vow to block exemption for L.A. stadium

  1. I sometimes think that rules exist entirely so that rich folk can flaunt them, or at least demand exemptions…

    If those rich enough to build stadia (even if largely achieved with other people’s money) are exempt, then to whom would such rules apply?

  2. In America, the rich and poor alike have the right to buy their way out of regulations…

  3. In all fairness, the CEQA challenge in this instant would be a bit ridiculous. Why would there need to be an environmental study for downtown Los Angeles? The place is already an urban jungle jungle with no wildlife to speak of, and if built behind the Staples Center towards Washington Blvd. (which the original proposal hinted at but didn’t flat-out state), it would largely be replacing vacant lots and urban blight. There’s no environmental impact here to speak of – if anything, allowing a public CEQA challenge would allow rival developers the opportunity to bankroll frivolous lawsuits that could bog down an entire process and divert the attention away from the real issues (who pays for it, would the 110/10 freeways be able to handle the additional traffic, how many businesses would be displaced, etc). If it follows the same model as the City of Industry, it will disallow public challenges but still reserve the state Attorney General the power to intervene if there are egregious offenses.

    I’m not totally familiar with the situation that surrounded Industry (whether there were legitimate environmental concerns regarding its construction) but the current petition doesn’t even argue that there are environmental concerns with downtown LA – they just don’t want another exemption made that could affect future lawsuits. It’s about preserving power.

    And in truth, we wouldn’t have this problem if the CEQA (which was passed 40 years ago and needs to be updated) weren’t so vague and overreaching. Yes, it is important to ensure that developers are held in check, but the law has been expanded to encompass all projects (even though the original law was only intended for public ones), making it the broadest in scope for the entire country. Due to this, every project must go through the mind-numbing, bureaucratic nightmare of producing Environmental Impact Reports even when there’s no clear need for one. It’s because of this that exemptions get made, which only weakens the intended original goal of the regulation and creates loopholes for those who the law was intended to curb to circumvent it. It’s California governmental dysfunction at its worst.

  4. Its hard to imagine how building a large stadium which would increase traffic smog in a area would NOT be covered under the CEQA. The argument you are making is one based on an outmoded idea of what Environmental Impact Reports are good for, which is to preserve or maintain some pristine natural resource, as opposed to examining the increasing levels of smog, noise pollution, and run-off that a large scale development can create. While the City of Industry site was chosen obviously because it presents so few neighbors to have to deal with, it’s not like the rest of the city won’t suffer from the smog and other pollution created by yet another traffic clogging sports venue.

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